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FREE TO LEAVE; OR NOT


 A police officer may stop an individual and request identification without any level of suspicion. The request alone does not constitute an investigative detention or seizure. The question becomes to what degree the retention, by the police officer, of the identification documents to search for outstanding warrants escalates the encounter to a seizure requiring reasonable suspicion criminal activity is afoot.. The D.C. Court of Appeals has said “an officers decision to run a check for outstanding warrants can be a pivotal event in an otherwise consensual street encounter; it sends a strong signal to a reasonable person that the officer will NOT allow him to leave while the inquiry is in progress because the outcome of the inquiry may necessitate the persons detention.” The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has agreed. If a police officer retains a drivers license, this can be a factor considered in the totality of the circumstances and may, ABSENT OFFSETTING CIRCUMSTANCES, mean a reasonable person would NOT feel free to leave without his or her license. That means anything seized from the individual during the encounter could not be used against him at trial.